Richard Prince - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York; Sadie Coles HQ, London; Marc Jancou Fine Art, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Like an advertisement, a recycled joke is essentially authorless, already out there in the world, available, just waiting to be repeated. It is the power of the joke to represent the darker side of existence via comic relief that must have also appealed to Prince since humor – in its more sardonic forms – has played a central role in his art since the mid-1980s." (N. Spector, ‘Nowhere Man' in Richard Prince: Spiritual America, New York, 2007)
    "I'd been working 10 years and I still wasn't known. So I wrote a joke in pencil on a piece of paper, and I'd invite people over and ask them, ‘Will you give me $10 for this?' I knew I was onto something—if someone else had done it I would have been jealous. You couldn't speculate about it. So much of art depends on the critic as the umpire. With a joke there's nothing to interpret." (S. Daly, ‘Richard Prince's Outside Streak' in Vanity Fair, 2007)
    By recycling and perpetually repeating jokes, Richard Prince delivers another seminal piece from his ‘Black and White and Color Paintings' a series continuation from his original ‘Jokes and Cartoons' works which he produced initially in 1986 and 1987. A joke about a hotel customer ringing the desk clerk, the painting works on a duality within the four borders by challenging the viewer to decipher the banal temper behind the way a joke is interpreted. A bold upper case Helvetica phrase is screenprinted onto a variation of white and light pastels painted onto cardboard, posing the question of painting in relation to humor and Prince's common reference to appropriation and re-contextualization, even down to the medium the joke is presented on. So worn are these jokes, however, that the interpreter can mentally envision the scenario, fill in the gaps and complete the punch line, thus creating a stage for intellectual interaction on a non-extensive and profound level, only to be left pondering, laughing or smiling at Prince's cunning genius.

  • Artist Biography

    Richard Prince

    American • 1947

    For more than three decades, Prince's universally celebrated practice has pursued the subversive strategy of appropriating commonplace imagery and themes – such as photographs of quintessential Western cowboys and "biker chicks," the front covers of nurse romance novellas, and jokes and cartoons – to deconstruct singular notions of authorship, authenticity and identity.

    Starting his career as a member of the Pictures Generation in the 1970s alongside such contemporaries as Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo and Sherrie Levine, Prince is widely acknowledged as having expanded the accepted parameters of art-making with his so-called "re-photography" technique – a revolutionary appropriation strategy of photographing pre-existing images from magazine ads and presenting them as his own. Prince's practice of appropriating familiar subject matter exposes the inner mechanics of desire and power pervading the media and our cultural consciousness at large, particularly as they relate to identity and gender constructs.

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Untitled, Jokes

Acrylic on Gatorboard.
136.5 x 121.9cm (53 3/4 x 48 in).
Signed and dated ‘R. Prince 2000' lower right.

£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £277,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm